A Confession

I find myself these days between the proverbial rock and a hard place. I begin to feel the pressures the average German must have felt in the teens of the last century as Hitler began his rise to power. I see clearly that the man who recently won the U.S. presidential lottery is poised to take a path not unlike the dreaded German. He shows all the earmarks of an intolerant, insecure, paranoid, disillusionist — much like Hitler. And the types who adore him and salute his every move confirm this picture, with truly disturbing effect.

I desire, on the one hand, to adopt a wait-and-see attitude, since with this man we really don’t know which way he will jump next. Further, I fully expect him to alienate the powers that be in Congress, including those who number themselves among the now crippled Republican Party. I simply don’t see this man getting along with anyone who disagrees with him. Thus I would adopt a quietistic attitude and try to ignore the absurd things this man is doing as he prepares to take the highest office in the land.

On the other hand, because these things appear so clearly to me, I feel the need to speak out and protest his every move, his every decision to appoint like-minded imbeciles to his cabinet and to important posts around the world. Like the character in Conrad’s novel, Under Western Eyes, I tell myself that “if life is not to be vile it must be a revolt, a pitiless protest — all the time.”  Albert Camus, who fought in the French underground during WW II, agreed: to have any real meaning human life must protest against evil wherever he finds it.  As thinking human beings who still have a deep sense of right and wrong, we must protest the wrong that surrounds us today.

The difficulty I have is that the problem is so immense and I feel helpless to effect meaningful change. How does one “take on” a powerful man surrounded by armed followers who are beginning to show themselves to be as bullying and as unconscionable  as their leader? How does one deal with this huge problem in light of the sure and certain knowledge that it will adversely affect his own health and well-being? The pressure to do something is great, but the stress that follows from the need to know what is going on in order to oppose it, and the sense of futility that attaches itself to every plan of action, is somehow is immense.

I try to close my eyes to what is going on around me with my futile attempts at quietude. Wait and see. But the sound and images are deafening and it would require that I move away from my computer and make no attempt whatever to keep up with the latest absurdity. I could do that but it seems cowardly and self-serving. I know that evil must be resisted in any way possible. But I know my limitations and have a real concern for my health, both physical and mental. I take these things too seriously. A cartoon making the rounds shows a young woman walking and talking with a friend. She says, ” My desire to be well informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane.” That puts it in a nutshell.

In an attempt to find a middle ground, to follow the lead of such thinkers as Aristotle and the Stoics, I seek to do those things that I am able to do, to speak out and resist where I can — knowing that it is almost certainly too little to be truly effective. But in order to do even this I must keep myself somewhat informed, read at least the headlines and follow those whose blogs are insightful and well-written — and deal with the stress that inevitably follows, try to find humor wherever it hides. My task is to undertake to do what I can and try not to worry about those things that I clearly cannot oppose effectively. Try not to dwell on the negatives; to soothe my frazzled nerves, reflect on the many benefits I enjoy and the beauty that surrounds me and those I hold dear. My protest may be too little to be of any real effect, but the need to resist evil is essential to one’s humanity, and that must remain of paramount concern.

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23 thoughts on “A Confession

    • Many thanks, Doug. There’s a lot of anxiety out there these days! So many of us feel like a Christian Scientist with appendicitis — to steal from Tom Lehrer!

      • The Lehrer reference is money. And while I want to push back, just “because,” I think we need cause which points to policy positions as opposed to personality, past business trespasses, or the punk methods by which he played the press, Social media, and subsequently the electoral college.

        If I’m allowed to read a bit of subtext into your reasoned post, it now seems old rules of political discourse or pushback are no longer operative. And it sure as hell seems that the “center” can’t hold if the has stopped listening, and worse, if it’s lost the ability to discern fact from folly, if not outright fiction.

        Faith

  1. Hugh, his history tells us what we need to know about how he will operate. How did he make his money and how did he treat people/ He exploited people through bullying, lawsuits, threatened lawsuits, mispresentation, and stiffing people. He cares only about himself.

    An attorney who worked for him and pleaded that people should not vote for him, said he lies all of the time. And, he said here is a guy who refuses to do the homework necessary to be President. His mishandling of phone calls with world-leaders is only beginning.

    It will be interesting to see how he handles Congress and other leaders not giving him what he wants or being critical of him. As the attorney said, even when you are on his good side, watch out, as you will eventually offend him..And, he holds grudges.

    Narcissism is not a good attribute for a President.
    Keith

      • Hugh, this man as President will be sued a lot by companies and interest groups. If he attempted to single out a company for tariffs, the company will sue him and win. If he tried to impose tariffs without Congressional approval, they could sue him and win. When he tries to damage the environment, he will get sued by interest groups and depending how grievous, they may win.. We are in for one heck of a rollercoaster ride. Keith

      • Fools, Conspirators, Criminals…fine examples of a People hell-bent to prove just exactly what their ignorant and crass presumptions upon humanity (their own and others) can perform, not the least American Chattel perfectly educated to be lead by the nose into just such a future as dawns upon them today. Without THIS leadership over the course of the last Century and better from the potent levers of cultural influence, none of what we see today would have been possible, let alone actual. Entirely too late for wrangling upon the visage of one simple man, who merely embodies the dregs from which he emerged. America.

  2. Hugh … every single word of this resonates and defines my own feelings so well, so much better than I have been able to do. I just finished composing my Monday morning post, and I must admit I actually enjoyed it this time … I needed to chuckle and know that it would make others do so also. No, we cannot turn away from what is happening, but we can take little breaks every now and then, and as you said, we must find humour where we can. We must not let this man and his culture destroy us! And no, the difference you, I and others are making may not have a huge impact, but we are doing what we can. Just think if everyone did! Great post, my friend!

  3. “to have any real meaning human life must protest against evil wherever he finds it. ”

    there is such a fine line in knowing when to speak up, who to share your thoughts with, how to shut down the incoming information if it’s overwhelming, etc etc… for me, it’s difficult to be silent when i witness something ‘wrong’ … yet being silent or speaking up makes my pulse rate escalate along with my blood pressure. ifight or flight – sometimes if it’s best left unsaid, i take the ‘flight… option.. f there is knowledge that something might go wrong, i try to keep one eye out to watch, especially if no one else seems to be paying attention. someone has to watch over the sheep when the sheep are sleeping!

    it has to be extremely difficult to witness something as huge as what you’re witnessing .. from studies and from personal experience, you have a good chance of accurately predicting the outcome — yet you also know that to stay too informed/too attentive – your health might suffer… where is the balance/when do you whisper, when do you shout/when do you step forward and scream, ‘ENOUGH! WAKE UP PEOPLE!’?????

    when i read the headlines, i think of you often and know it must be a struggle…thank you for sharing your fears, based on wisdom, history, intelligence, and your ability to see thru the masks of the bad guys…

    will the next generations be more sensitive, will they learn from lessons of earlier times, or will those same mistakes be repeated again? there seems to be a never-ending saga of good against evil.. of kindness and of selfishness, of advancing and regressing… of suffering and prejudice vs examples of the Good Samaratin, of holding grudges, festering wounds and of heaing,forgiveness and letting go…

    in the future, what wil be written of these times?

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we …”

    • Very well said (and I love the Dicken’s quote!). Let’s hope that future generations do learn from these mistakes. Heaven knows, we have made them by the basketful. We can only hope. Many thanks for the kind words.

  4. I am conflicted. I lean towards better the mistake we have made than the one we could have made. If our Government works as it was intended to, Donald Trump will be the Republican Jimmy Carter. He will get nothing done unless Congress approves of it and the courts back it up. The separation of powers should keep him in check. He has little to no political capital, whereas Hillary has plenty and she knows where all of the bodies are buried. And she would not be shy about using that information and influence. Maybe Congress will actually start doing the job for which they were elected, and spend less time raising money for the DNC and RNC.

    • I hope you are right — and I have noted some of the same things in earlier posts. But I do worry that Trump has the nuclear codes and there are no checks on his power to use them if it strikes his fancy.

  5. “I tell myself that “if life is not to be vile it must be a revolt, a pitiless protest — all the time.”” Welcome to my (ever formerly and forwardly persistent) world, Mr. Curtler.

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